As The Episcopal Church reckons more deeply with its past involvement in Indigenous boarding schools, the Office of Indigenous Ministries invites all Episcopalians to register to watch Winter Talk 2023, an annual conference that highlights Indigenous and Native American traditions and contributions within the church.
The Jan. 21-23 event will be hosted by the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, which recently marked its 200th anniversary in that state. In-person and interactive Zoom attendance is by invitation only. Those wishing to view the livestream can register online here.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President Julia Ayala-Harris will join activities on Jan. 21, which include conversations with the Oneida people, video viewing of and discussion about “Native Voices: Speaking to the Church and the World,” a welcoming ceremony, and Evening Prayer.
Other conference activities include the annual “State of the State Address” by the Rev. Brad Hauff, Indigenous missioner for The Episcopal Church; presentations and reports; a local excursion; and “building the altar,” an anticipated highlight of Winter Talk conferences. Participants are invited to place items of significance to their culture, tradition, and ministry on the altar and to share briefly about the pieces, some of which are later given away in accordance with various cultures.
January’s Winter Talk—which is themed “A Chain Linking Two Traditions”—comes six months after The Episcopal Church’s General Convention approved a resolution calling for the creation of a fact-finding commission to research and fully investigate the church’s role in Indigenous boarding schools, as well as create educational resources about the schools. The resolution also calls for a grant program to support Episcopal dioceses in conducting local research and preserving the stories of boarding school survivors and their families; and to establish spiritual healing centers in Indigenous communities across the church.
“Winter Talk 2023 as a hybrid event allows us to be present on the Oneida Reservation with the people as they mark their 200th anniversary in Wisconsin. This is something we were not able to do last year when the gathering was changed to an all-virtual format,” said Hauff, the church’s Indigenous missioner. “It will also give us an opportunity to participate in the traditions of the gathering, such as building the altar, hearing witnesses from elders, and joining in an enculturated eucharistic liturgy.”
The Episcopal Church’s first Winter Talk was held in Oklahoma in the 1980s. Inspired by the traditional Native American practice of “winter counts”—hides inscribed annually with a pictograph representing the year—the conferences are typically held in January.
Follow online for information and updates about Winter Talk 2023.